Page last updated at 21:04 GMT, Sunday, 2 May 2010 22:04 UK

Pope Benedict views Turin shroud

The pontiff prayed before the famous shroud in Turin Cathedral

Pope Benedict XVI has viewed the Turin shroud - the cloth in which, according to many believers, Christ was buried.

"The Holy Shroud eloquently reminds us of Jesus' suffering", he said in Turin.

The pontiff spent several minutes praying before the shroud, although in line with papal tradition he did not touch on the authenticity of the cloth.

The frail linen, which shows an image of a man's body and what appear to be the marks of crucifixion, has gone on display for the first time in 10 years.

'Written in blood'

The Pope appeared to come close to acknowledging the relic was the burial shroud of Jesus.

During Sunday's visit to the display in Turin Cathedral, Benedict said: "This is a burial cloth that wrapped the remains of a crucified man in full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus."

The Pope did not touch on the scientific questions that surround the linen and its authenticity, saying it was "an icon written in blood".

The shroud was put on public view for six weeks in a bullet-proof and climate-controlled case on 10 April. Some two million people are expected to see it.

Tests in 1988 suggested that it dated from the Middle Ages, but those carbon dating findings are contested.

The BBC's Duncan Kennedy in Rome say that the Pope is by tradition the keeper of the shroud, but it is not clear what his own personal thoughts are on its authenticity.

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Philadelphia Inquirer Pope visits Shroud: It's in accord 'with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus' - 26 hrs ago Pope all but endorses authenticity of Turin Shroud - 39 hrs ago
Daily Express Pope Benedict visits Turin Shroud - 43 hrs ago
Sky News Pope 'Prays Safe' In Front Of Turin Shroud - 44 hrs ago
The Scotsman Pope Benedict prays before Turin Shroud - 44 hrs ago

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